A woman with the potential to make it big. It is not that she cannot: she simply will not.
The closest anyone has come to being an adopted daughter.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Random things I dislike: III

For Part I click here.

For Part II click here.

*** *** ***

1. CCD reactions to espresso

This always happens. Always.

I enter a Cafe Coffee Day (this has absolutely nothing to do with the quality; availability is the key here) with an insatiable caffeine-deficiency in my system. I push open the glass door and let the invisible magic fumes infiltrate my system.


I walk up to the counter. I can see the beans — they're right there behind the counter, ready to be converted to a liquid state for human consumption. I patiently wait in the queue as my urge increases. I flash my CCD membership card (yes, such a thing exists).

"An espresso, please."

"Sir, an espresso comes in a small cup, and is black coffee without sugar."


PS: Barista is not a lot better, either.

2. The dumpsters

Eating, as we know, is the unsung religion of mankind. Despite Oprah Winfrey's ignorance, we still enjoy eating with our hands, which is easily the best medium one can use for Indian food. You can use hands for other cuisines as well, but I somehow suspect tackling spaghetti with your hands will not be a good option.

Let us come to the point. This list is more or less confined to non-vegetarians (yes, I am aware that I am discriminating). Mind you, I have nothing against vegetarians; how can you be angry at people who go through their lives with a whopping 20% of their sense organs unused?

Anyway, let us return to our point. With non-vegetarian food comes bones (of course I am aware that there are boneless versions of every product, but cooking with the bones on simply tastes better); and for every, every, every proper meal in a gathering, there exists at least one person who dumps the bones — fish or flesh — next to his plate, on the table (or floor).

Vegetarians do the same, but the best they are equipped with is bay leaves, which are seldom chewed into unrecognisable debris. 

Nothing kills my appetite faster than the dumpsters of the world.


3. Over-familiarness

Direct mail campaigns are a rather cool thing. I have helped prepare gazillions myself, so I know what it is about.

Gone are the days when they used to arrive at our mailboxes in neat envelopes. That is history. Now they come in glitzy emails with the option to download or not download the pictures; the Nehas and Pujas of the world claim they are waiting for me; KFC never forgets to mention their discounts; and Flipkart makes it a point to keep me updated about their new launches.

All these are tolerable. Even the über-rich Nigerians.


Over-familiarness is not. I repeat, not.

I know the word is not in the dictionary. I just made it up. But it does mean something.

I am perfectly fine with emails that go “97% discount on Western Digital hard disks.”
[Note: I made up the number, WD never gives such discounts]

I am, however, not fine with emails that start off with fake cheery tones: “Hi, Abhishek! How has your day been? It has been long since you have visited our site!”

4. Tips and jokes

Let me clear this once and for all: you do not crack “a jokes”; you crack “a joke”. “Jokes” is plural for “joke”. It is not a singular. Hence, “a jokes” is grammatically incorrect, and hence infuriating.

Similarly for “tips”; you do not pass on “a tips”; it is “a tip”.
[Note: The phrase is more common in Indian languages than in proper English. “Ami toke ekta tips dichchhi” is a common Bengali phrase that translates to “let me pass a tips on to you.]

5. Skin and flesh

I have never managed to figure this out: why do people peel apples before eating them raw?

Apples are generally delicious. In fact, I would rank them among the tastiest fruits available to mankind, and certainly the finest of the forbidden fruits; it even has an electronics brand named after one of its half-eaten brothers.

Apple skins are not supposed to be discarded. De-pipping makes some sense, but why throw away the layer of the fruit? Is it not the semi-hard cover, combined with the succulent interiors that make the fruit so irresistibly delicious?

If you still cannot have your apple with its peel on, please remove the peel when you’re away from me. An earnest request.

As mentioned, credit goes to Barbara W Beacham

6. Heat! Heat!

Go to a savouries shop. Ask for your favourite item on display. They ask whether you want it heated. You agree, somewhat innocently, completely oblivious of what is going to follow.

Once the telltale ting happens, they take out the delicious-looking supremo or envelope or internet or food-item-with-a-different-name-but-tastes-the-same-anyway out from the microwave oven (and invariably place it on a paper plate already covered in an ocean of tomato ketchup).

You take the first bite; and you scald your mouth.

Servers in fast-food chains (attention: Mongini’s!) over years, decades, centuries, millennia have failed to realise that when a customer wants his food hot, he wants it a bit hotter than room temperature, and hot enough to find it tasty.


It’s time you realise this.

7. Leaving emails unread

This looks terrible on Gmail. Your friend or colleague (or someone who is both) or anyone else asks you to sit next to him. He shows you his mailbox. Your eyes automatically get diverted to the top left corner of the mailbox, where you get to see the number of unread emails.

A count of five or six unread emails is absolutely fine. A count of a few hundreds, on the other hand, gets under my skin. Some people go a step further.

See? See? SEE?


8. The toh people

This, unfortunately, is something strictly Indian, since the word তো or तो is very difficult to translate. You may get the flavour, though.

The word is supposed to be pronounced as “to”; however, a few intellectual descendants of Albert Einstein have decided to use the spelling “toh”, the reason being that there is a possibility that the reader may confuse it with the English “to”.

For the uninitiated, the Indian spelling comes is misread as তোঃ or तो:, which is probably the sound made by someone who stammers and climaxes at the same time. It is certainly not what the intention with which the word had been mentioned.

9. Hash-tagging to flaunt respect

Hash-tagging, one of the greatest concepts since sliced bread, has revolutionised the world of Twitter and other websites of social networking. Hash-tagging looks suave, they can be flexible, they trend, they demonstrate creativity, and they allow you to use #, which is oddly reminiscent of Archie Andrews’ hair.

[Question (mostly to historians): What was the universally accepted greatest concept in the pre-sliced bread era? This is a genuine question.]

The question is, why would someone use the hash-tag #respect? What purpose does it serve? Let us see.

Fardeen Khan has won Academy Awards in nine consecutive years. #respect

What is this supposed to mean? The purpose of a hash-tag is to catch a trending topic: for example, the hash-tags #FardeenKhan, #AcademyAwards, or #AcademyAwardRecords can be used in the above tweet, since people are likely to search with those hash-tags. Nobody will search with #respect.

The other purpose of hash-tags is to show off your creativity skills (social networking, after all, is all about showing off). Let us check an example.

I say “khandani chor hoon, kuchh to leke jaoonga” to myself when I check-out of a hotel. #ThingsAndazApnaApnaDoToYou

See what I meant? See? #respect does not create the awe #ThingsAndazApnaApnaDoToYou does.

In other words, neither does #respect capture the trend, nor does it look creative or cool. The only purpose it serves is to make the person look as ridiculous as a a vegetarian meal on the KFC menu.

10. People who crave for delivery charges

There was a period when Flipkart used to charge fifty rupees as book delivery charges unless your order exceeded an amount of Rs 500 (I have been told the numbers have changed since).

[Note: Now that you know I am a voracious reader, why don’t you go here and buy me a book?]

My problem lies elsewhere: once you know there is free shipping, why will you buy books worth Rs 450 and pay Rs 50 as delivery, instead of getting another book for a hundred rupees (Agatha Christie books cost a shade over that)? You will be getting a book worth Rs 110 for Rs 60, which is close to a 50% discount!

Instead, people choose to pay the extra fifty rupees to the shipping companies. This is too terrible to be true: instead of getting close to a 50% discount on a book, someone is paying the same amount to Bluedart or First Flight.

If that is not a reason to get annoyed, I do not know what is.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Towel Day! Towel Day!

It's that time of the year: 25th May is nigh, and it's time to carry a towel to work (yes, I do work on Sundays) and not panic and try to hitch-hike — which, one must admit, is an extremely difficult ask in this city.

It has been a year full of ups and downs, but then, that is the USP of years: they are meant to be full of ups and downs. One may think that it's because "ups" is an anagram of USP, but they're wrong. Years are nothing but orthogonal fjords.

Had we both not been atheists, I would have prayed for you or typed out the acronym RIP on social media. Unfortunately, we both are, hence our plan of action may include a visit to Eroticon Six and explore that woman of questionable profession but perfectly agreeable endowments. If not, we can even visit Sago Mud Salad, or even have dates with Fenchurch or Kate Schechter. 

In case you're not aware, I have moved on to analog watches; I have not yet taken to Bach, but am mostly harmless. And, to be honest, so are the inhabitants of the utterly insignificant little blue-green planet that orbits a small unregarded yellow sun in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy.


101010; 1120; 222; 132; 110; 60; 52; 46.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Is baar, Modi Sarkar

Dear Mr Modi:

I could not vote this time. It's not that I did not want to, but since I stay in a city far, far away from the address indicated on my Voter's ID card and air-ticket prices often tend to go over the roof and to-and-fro train journeys would have taken up a chunk of my trip, I could not make it. Or rather, I chose not to make it. I did not do my bit as a responsible citizen. Also, I'm apolitical, but that has nothing to do with my not voting.

Congratulations, though. You had laid a plan, had the machinery to back it, have made sure everything was executed to perfection, and you have ensured Tropicana's launch of a new product called Congress juice (with pulp).

But this is a serious letter. Seriously serious. I mean it.

Being an ordinary person, I can only guess, but not feel the glory you are basking in. As they keep on saying, though, is that getting to the top is more difficult than staying there. Ask MS Dhoni. Ask Sunny Leone's partners. They will all agree.

Some of them are comparing you to Hitler and BJP to Nazis. Not me. Yet. The reason? Simple.

The Nazis had performed continued their atrocities after their ascent to the top. Your performances at the top are untested. Given the fact that you are possibly the smartest person India has right now, I doubt whether you will do the same.

I hope airfares go down, ensuring I can vote next time.

I hope you remember your humble past and treat those with a humble present with compassion.

I hope their aspersions that you will turn out to be a dictator turn out to be false.

I hope you turn India into the country we have always dreamed of and you have promised us. We have seen how efficient and enterprising a person you are; please continue to do so. What you have done for a political party can definitely be replicated for the good of India.

I hope the post-result fear in the hearts of the (religious) minority communities is baseless.

I hope the nation does not need a Chosen One in future.

I hope the dispute over Kashmir is resolved for good.

I hope the states in North-East India won't have a reason to complain. More importantly, I hope the people throughout the country are able to name all states in the North-East on a political map of India.

How many of them can name all states, I wonder

I hope every physically fit citizen of India between 18 and 60 is forced to carry out a year's paid community and / or military service.

I hope blue-collar jobs pay anywhere close to white-collar jobs in this country.

I hope crime against women comes to an immediate halt. I know you're capable of pulling this off. You're smarter and more efficient than anyone in power.

I hope medical treatment is affordable to everyone and, if possible, free.

I hope cash transactions decrease throughout the country.

I hope policemen are paid significantly more than they are. 

I hope Fardeen Khan comes back to India.

I hope radical changes are made to the implementation and execution of Law 498A.

I hope everybody who claims of being proud to be an Indian is quizzed on a topic of his choice regarding the country in question.

I hope everyone has enough to feed and cover themselves.

I hope anyone spitting in any public place is fined so much that their mouths would dry up when they think of it the next time.

I hope all rare books and videotapes are preserved.

I hope the third gender has equal opportunities as the other two.

I hope heritage sites are so well-maintained that they earn enough foreign revenue to make it a significant part of the GDP. Remember, this will also generate several jobs at multiple levels.

I hope the concept of family-planning is taken a bit more seriously. I hope the income tax amount depends on it.

I hope The Indian National Congress and Manmohan Singh are treated with respect.

I hope Pakistan or China or Burkina Faso or USA or any other country thinks thrice before having the audacity to you-know-what.

I hope the General Compartments in Indian Railways are equipped enough to be classified as suitable for human transport.

I hope to see artists or athletes struggling financially are taken care of.

I hope to see free service — financial, infrastructural, and emotional — provided to senior citizens who stay alone.

I hope for a lot of other things, but right now I need to have my lunch. I hope you understand.

But. But. But.

If most of these happen (especially the Fardeen bit), I promise you that I will purchase that air-ticket irrespective of the price next time and get my index finger painted in ink.

We have hoped for too long. That is, in fact, what most of us do. Hope.

You seem to be someone who can actually do.


A well-wisher.